Q: How can I find out if school is back in session?
A: Updates are posted each day to the Work Stoppage Update page. Information about whether or not school is in session the next day will be posted by 5 p.m. so that families can make plans for childcare.
Q: What is the mediation process and how is it helping this situation?
A: Mediation is an informal dispute resolution process. The mediator’s role is to guide the parties (in this case, Longview Public Schools and Longview Education Association (LEA)) toward their own resolution. Through joint sessions and separate caucuses with parties, the mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly, understand each other’s position and move closer to resolution.
A mediator is appointed by the state of Washington and meetings between the two parties needing resolution assistance is dependent on the availability of the mediator. In this situation, with many districts throughout the state requiring mediator services, mediator time with each district may be limited. Longview’s mediation sessions are based on the availability of the mediator.
Q: Why are sporting events still taking place even though classes have been cancelled?
A: There are a few reasons. Coaches work under a different contract than teachers and are not in salary negotiations. Longview Public Schools and LEA mutually agreed that sports activities would continue even in the event of a work stoppage in an effort to help participating students maintain healthy, scheduled activities. Additionally, if a sporting event is cancelled, there is no opportunity to make up this games/match against another school that may not be affected by a work stoppage.
Q: There have been rumors that the district added more administrator positions. Is this true? How many administrative positions were added to Longview Public Schools this year compared to last?
A: No, this is not accurate. Only one administrator position, a director of curriculum, was added this school year. The position directly supports teachers and students by ensuring essential content and skills for each grade level and course are put in place; and that teachers and students receive updated instructional resources that support student learning, and professional development for teachers. Other administrative positions are not new staff but rather reclassification of existing positions.
Q: Why are some school districts giving teachers a bigger pay increase than others?
A: The amount of money that districts have to bargain with is not the same across the board. School districts will not receive the same amount of funding for the same amount of teachers. This means that one district’s ability to provide a salary increase may be dramatically less than another district located right next door. While all school districts are set to receive a standard amount of funding per teacher, some districts are set to receive additional funding based on the new formula set up by the Legislature. Longview received zero dollars of additional funding, while other districts revenue increased as much as 24 percent.
Q: Where is the money that was allocated to Longview from the McCleary “fix” going?
A: The one-time, $6 million dollars Longview Public Schools received in 2018-19 as a result of the McCleary decision is allocated in the budget as follows. These numbers have been independently verified by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI):
- Teacher Salaries: $3,043,272
- Support Staff Salaries (para-educators, bus drivers, food service workers): $1,021,138
- Staff Benefits: $2,221,763
Q: Why can’t the district just give teachers a raise now and then evaluate future costs later?
A: Longview Public School revenue is projected to increase $6 million in 2018-19, but it is expected to go down by $2 million the following year. Over a third of Washington’s school districts are going to lose 50% or more of their local levy funding due the new school funding system.
Districts are required to plan ahead: the Legislature added a requirement for districts to create a four-year budget plan to help school districts navigate changes brought about by the new McCleary legislation and to ensure sustainability. For months now, districts have been working with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and their Educational Service Districts to determine the level of salary increase that they can afford on a long-term basis. Each district must continue to make a thorough examination of what they can afford based on their own unique situation, regardless of agreements being reached in other districts.
* Information obtained from the Washington State School Directors’ Association